The Netherlands Ministry of Defence can once again have confidence in the future. After years of budget cuts, the Defence organization is investing in its people, capabilities and visibility. Personnel will be given the equipment they need to work as effectively and safely as possible. Capabilities will be enhanced by the procurement of new materiel and by the modernization of existing resources. Investments will be made in IT and cyber. The Ministry of Defence will also work more intensively with partners, such as the business community, NATO and the EU.
In view of the deterioration of the security situation, an agile military force is vital. NATO is demanding larger and more robust units for allied defence, and the United Nations and the EU are turning to the Defence organisation increasingly often. In the Netherlands, too, the military needs to be there when needed. The restoration and reinforcement of the military organisation is therefore urgently needed. And that is going to happen. How? In what areas? To be able to do what? And why? This is all outlined in the Defence White Paper published today.
The document, entitled ‘Investing in our people, capabilities and visibility’, sets out what the armed forces are going to look like in the coming years. The White Paper states, for example, that capabilities will be enhanced by the modernisation of weapon systems, and the replacement and procurement of ships. Information-driven operations will also be a priority, as will increasing the deployability of fighter aircraft and helicopters.
The ever-changing security situation calls for an agile, robust military force. A force that adapts quickly and is there when it is needed. What does that mean in practice? The Defence White Paper explains. It also details what will be improved in the various elements of the Defence organisation. Much is possible with the extra money that will be allocated to the Defence budget over the years to come.
The White Paper is full of plans, not only with regard to materiel, but especially with regard to personnel. Aspects such as improved career guidance, terms of employment, staying in a function longer, and the availability of new personal kit. The changes will take time, however. New personnel need to be trained and materiel procurement takes time to process.
Start of a journey
As far as Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten and State Secretary Barbara Visser are concerned, this Defence White Paper is not a destination, but the start of a journey along a path that determines the direction for the future. A future in which the Netherlands once again has a healthy military force, robust and agile. Follow-up steps are needed for this. These too are outlined in the Defence White Paper.
The Ministry of Defence wants to be an organization for which people are proud to work, an organization that is visible in society. An organization that is a good partner to civil authorities, the European Union, NATO, the business community and societal organizations. A military force with sufficient means and people, satisfied personnel with faith in the organization.